Crock Pot Beef and Butternut Squash Stew

by jenna on October 22, 2012

Okay guys, so I figured out something major last week.

Cats like to eat sourdough starter.

Just kidding….but not really. It’s weird. The real thing, though, that I figured out what something way more obvious—- beef stew does NOT photograph easily! But it’s so delicious. I mean, I can’t really think of a more comforting meal for a cold, rainy night then beef stew with a crusty roll dunked in. But yeah…it proved to be quite challenging to make a bowl of brown globs look as delicious as it tastes! I just had to face the facts: some of the most delicious food is just plain ugly. I hope you’ll believe me and try it anyway!

This crock pot beef and butternut squash stew is perfect for this time of year! The addition of the butternut squash was something a little different and seasonal — it gives the stew a little bit of sweetness. I made it one night last week when Adam came over for dinner and we both practically licked our bowls clean. That’s saying a lot since I’m not a huge beef person to start!

For this, you’ll want to grab some lean beef stew meat from the store. I got mine from Trader Joe’s and it worked perfectly. By the end of the nine hours, the beef had stewed so much {literally} that it had practically turned into brisket. It was, perhaps, the most tender beef I have ever tasted! Some recipes for beef stew involve stirring in a slurry of cornstarch and water at the end to thicken, but that was definitely not necessary here. Let the Crock Pot do all the work, people! And if you don’t have a Crock Pot, let me just tell you it was the best $20 I’ve ever spent. I have a super cheap one from Tar-jay {Target} and have absolutely gotten my money’s worth.

In addition to butternut squash, there are also carrots, potatoes, onion and celery in this yummy stew. When it was done, I tasted it and it was GOOD but needed a little somethin’ somethin’. I placed my spoon down and turned on my heels to face my pantry. I stood there for a few moments, hands on my hips, trying to decide what ingredient would make the flavors pop the most.

Finally I had it.

Soy sauce.

Soy sauce! Just a tablespoon was all this guy needed to go from being good to bowl-lickin’-delicious. It might sound unlikely, but I speak the truth. Yo.

Crock Pot Beef and Butternut Squash Stew

serves 6

Print this Recipe!

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs beef stew meat, chopped into 1″ pieces

1 tbsp canola oil

5 small red or purple potatoes, chopped

3 large carrots, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 tsp minced garlic

10 oz sliced cremini mushrooms

1 2.5 lb butternut squash, peeled and chopped

1 quart beef broth (4 cups)

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp black pepper

pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 cup flour

Directions:

Place the flour in a shallow dish with the chopped beef. Toss well to coat. Heat the canola oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute for about five minutes until soft. Add the beef and garlic to the pan and continue sauteing until the beef has browned.

Place the beef, onions and garlic at the bottom of your Crock Pot. Next, add the bay leaf, butternut squash, mushrooms, chopped carrots and potatoes. Pour the beef broth over and add the Worcestershire, soy sauce, sugar and paprika— if you are using a 5 qt Crock Pot like me, it will almost overflow but don’t worry, it won’t! Also, it won’t look like there is enough liquid in the pot — there is.

Place the lid on the Crock Pot and turn the heat to low. Cook for 8-10 hours. Right before serving, add the salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf!

This stew freezes wonderfully and is a very comforting meal on cold rainy nights.

Time:

active time —- 10 minutes

total time — 10 hours

 

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{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

Crystal October 22, 2012 at 3:48 am

I’ve been looking for a slow cooker beef stew recipe for about a week now that doesn’t call for cream of chemical soup! I love that this has butternut squash in it. I’m going to make it today! Thanks!

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Sonal October 22, 2012 at 4:00 am

I don’t actually eat beef but I think anything with butternut squash is comfort food :)

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Averie @ Averie Cooks October 22, 2012 at 4:12 am

Stews and soups (and casseroles – or anything soft or on the mushy side like mashed potatoes even) can all be so hard to photograph! You did a great job!

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Blog is the New Black October 22, 2012 at 4:35 am

Well you sure did a great job of making me want this, even if it doesn’t photograph easily!

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Michelle @ Eat Move Balance October 22, 2012 at 4:35 am

Oh boy, I could see my husband loving this!!! Thanks for the tip on getting beef from TJ’s–that’s where I’ll go then! :)

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jane October 22, 2012 at 4:35 am

is there celery in it? it says that there is but it isnt in the ingredients list. i have a bunch of celery i want to use up so it would be perfect!! yumm

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Angela @ Happy Fit Mama October 22, 2012 at 4:48 am

I’m not a beef eater but I could totally do this without the meat. Personally, I think it’s a sin not to have a crusty roll with a stew or soup! :)

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat October 22, 2012 at 4:54 am

I’ll take butternut squash in any form! Sounds delicious, and your brown clumps in a bowl look beautiful!

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Lauren at Keep It Sweet October 22, 2012 at 5:09 am

I was just looking for new slow cooker recipes that are comforting but generally healthy, can’t wait to make this!

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Lauren October 22, 2012 at 5:13 am

Wow, I don’t eat red meat but this recipe might make me change my mind! Holy goodness that looks outstanding!

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Abby@ Totes Delish October 22, 2012 at 6:18 am

I love stews like this! It takes me back to weekends in the winter, eating this up while covered up with a warm blanket!

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Ashley @ LibertyBelles October 22, 2012 at 6:39 am

I’ve been looking for the perfect recipe for my butternut squash sitting in the pantry. Perfect!

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Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe October 22, 2012 at 6:40 am

Well now I definitely need to get myself a crock pot! Sounds delicious!

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amy walters, aDESIGNdock October 22, 2012 at 7:22 am

I simply adore those cute Jadeite bowls you’ve got there…and the new fabric background too. Jenna, you totally made this recipe look appetizing…and that’s coming from a gal whose never really liked stew!

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Em (Wine and Butter) October 22, 2012 at 7:31 am

I think it looks totally delicious!! :) – and I hear you on the not being a big beef fan, but loving stew thing… xx

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joelle (on a pink typewriter) October 22, 2012 at 7:32 am

I make a recipe exactly like this, except not in a crockpot. It’s my very favorite.. I call it my autumn stew on my blog. :)

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Liz @ The Lemon Bowl October 22, 2012 at 7:40 am

This sounds delish – love butternut squash with beef!!

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Aaryn October 22, 2012 at 7:42 am

Okay, silly noob cooker question (for anyone!): Does the beef have to be cooked all the way through before crock potting it? Or just cooked a little on the outside… I’m such a freak about cooking meat; it scares me :S
Thank you!!

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Lisa October 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm

It’s just browned in a pan; not cooked all the way.

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Jenna October 22, 2012 at 7:47 am

Yum! This looks delicious. Love comfort foods

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Caroline L. October 22, 2012 at 7:52 am

Oh yummmm this looks so comforting and hearty. Oh hey, it started raining in Palo Alto last night… does that call for some delicious, hot stew? Yes it does!

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deva by definition October 22, 2012 at 8:02 am

Oh my does this look delicious! I love letting my crock pot do all of the work for me – it’s so nice to get to come home and only have to worry about a salad or bread!

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Carrie @ Kiss My Whisk October 22, 2012 at 8:05 am

This will be perfect for our cold and rainy Seattle winter…can’t wait to give it a try!

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Danielle October 22, 2012 at 8:34 am

When we have a sour dough starter I have to squirt the cat for getting on the counter and sniffing the bowl. He’s never actually gotten into it, but he sure seems interested in the smell!

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Amanda N October 22, 2012 at 8:55 am

This sounds and looks so good! I now know what I’m going to do with the Butternut squash I bought over a week ago :)

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin October 22, 2012 at 9:13 am

This reminds me of a beef stew my dad used to make when I was a kid. We actually made it together when I was home for Thanksgiving and it brought me back to old times. He doesn’t put butternut squash in his though because he hates squash haha. Personally I think it would be a nice addition so I’ll definitely have to try your recipe!

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Stepf October 22, 2012 at 10:18 am

Oh my goodness! I hope your cat is OK. Uncooked dough is toxic to them! You could have had a serious vet emergency on your hands.

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Linda | The Urban Mrs October 22, 2012 at 10:43 am

Wow – this looks so delicious and simple to make. So perfect for weekend supper, very comforting.

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Natalie @ NS Pottery October 22, 2012 at 11:03 am

Sounds delish! Going on the menu this week.

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nowel October 22, 2012 at 11:47 am

look forward to trying this one.

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kim@hungryhealthygirl October 22, 2012 at 11:48 am

Yum! I love butternut squash soups/stews. I’ll have to give that stew meat a try. And you are so right….stew is very difficult to photograph, but your’s looks delicious.

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Erica @ Coffee & Quinoa October 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm

It’s definitely the time of year to dust off the ol’ crock pot – thanks for reminding me!

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Annie-Rose October 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Yum! Just a quick question – could I prep this the night before – maybe keeping the beef separate – and add it all together in the morning? I just don’t have time to brown beef, etc. in the mornings before work. Thanks!

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Kelly October 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Made this for dinner tonight! Perfect meal for this chilly, rainy day. Thanks!

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Alyssa October 22, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Oh no- you are missing the red wine and cloves!!! Absolutely vital to a good beef stew- about 1/2 to one cup of red wine and 1/4 tsp ground cloves is all you need to add deep depths of flavor!

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Isabel October 22, 2012 at 9:55 pm

I’m in the market for a crock pot but I don’t want a super big one since it’s just me. Which crock pot do you have Jenna?

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jenna October 23, 2012 at 6:52 am

I have a cheap $20 Crock Pot from Target – it’s a 5 qt one and is just “Crock Pot” brand :)

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Melissa October 22, 2012 at 10:26 pm

I want to make this but I don’t have a slow cooker. How can I make this on the stove top?

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Carrie @ The Cook's Palette October 22, 2012 at 11:43 pm

Yum! This looks perfect for the cold, rainy weather we’re having in Seattle. I love anything with butternut squash in it, so this should be a go!

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katie October 23, 2012 at 8:01 am

this looks and sounds fabulous on a cool fall day here in Florida! ;)

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Kim D October 23, 2012 at 8:22 am

your gorgeous photo inspired me to cook this for dinner. i didn’t have any squash so i added peas instead and used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead of soy sauce. i adjusted the amount of broth i added. it turned out so delicious!

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AC October 23, 2012 at 9:47 am

That looks amazing! Our favorite beef stew also has butternut squash but no potatoes and it has one or two chipotles with a spoonful of the adobo sauce. There’s something about beef and butternut. :)

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Michele October 23, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Can’t wait to try it! About how many cups of chopped does a 2.5 lb butternut squash yield? I like to buy mine pre-chopped at Whole Foods….

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Jessica October 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Hi Jenna, I have this beef stew in my slow cooker as I write this post. It smells soo good in my kitchen, my mouth is watering, only an hour more to go! Can’t wait to taste it. If it tastes as good as it smells this will become my new fav fall recipe. Thanks for posting it.

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Tracey @Cooking With Love October 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I have a butternut squash with this written all over it! Thanks!! :)

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Life's a Bowl October 24, 2012 at 3:59 am

Delic! My momma used to make beef stew for us in the winter a few times each year and it was the highlight of the week- she cooked it low and slow on the stove… I tried recreating it last year using the same ingredients and it was okay but it sure wasn’t like hers :P I like the addition of butternut squash- one of my favorite cold weather vegetables!

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Jessica October 24, 2012 at 8:28 am

I don’t always have 8-10 hours on a Sunday…my boyfriend and I like to sleep in! Can I do on high for 4-6??

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jenna October 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Hmmm what about on a friday — putting it on before you go to work? It would taste even better the next day after it sits awhile. If not, yes you can try putting it on high for 4-6 hours but I recommend keeping it on low for 8 ;)

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Erin October 25, 2012 at 4:15 am

AHHH! I’ve been looking for a beef stew recipe for the crock put that doesn’t need a slurry, slurry is for babies! Going to make this this weekend for the work week…I’m going to have some happy roommates :)

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Laura October 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Made this one two days ago. A really nice home-made style casserole. Thank you for making the note about how it looks like it will overflow, as yep – mine looked like it would be but didn’t, just as you pointed out.
Great family meal as it has lovely flavour without being overly powerful.
And it makes HEAPS. I served ours with rice & peas (I prefer bread but my husband likes rice with a casserole) and it made 9 full adult serves.
Thanks Jenna.

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Whitney October 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I made this stew this weekend ahead of the Frankenstorm. I’m glad I made it on a Saturday morning, as I would not have had time to put it together before work or church any other day. The vegetable prep work and then the sauteing and browning of the onions and meat took quite a bit of time. I had to make a few substitutions, based on what I had on hand – a sweet potato instead of the red, portobella mushrooms for the cremini and added a can of cannellini beans because I only had 1 pound of stew meat.

Overall, I thought it was a strong soup, but I like BOLD flavor and have needed to play around with the spices each time I heat up a bowl – chipotle tobasco sauce, chili powder, chipotle powder, etc. I’ve also thrown in some green beans.

Thanks!

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Elizabeth October 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Any harm in using ground beef instead of stew meat?

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jenna October 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I would not use ground beef instead…stick with stew meat — it is best for slow cookers!

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Ali October 30, 2012 at 10:59 am

How would you adjust for a 3.5qt crockpot? Or oven in 5 qt Dutch oven?

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jenna October 30, 2012 at 1:38 pm

You would need to halve the recipe in order to accommodate a smaller slow cooker. I haven’t tried making this in the oven, but I’m sure it is possible, although you would need to play around with the temperature. I think the easiest thing to do would be to just halve the recipe.

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Sarah @ Belle on Heels October 31, 2012 at 9:38 am

Oh goodness, PLEASE do not let the cats get into the starter again! Ingesting that can cause bloat in dogs and cats, which is an incredibly dangerous and often fatal condition. Sorry to be Little Miss Lecture, but bread doughs, yeast, and sourdough starters can be so, so, SO dangerous for pets!!!!!!

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Susanna October 31, 2012 at 11:51 am

I made this last night. This was SO GOOD. Seriously. As someone who grew up detesting beef stew (because my mom always made it gross – just onions, carrots and potatoes, and it was super thick), I was skeptical. But wow – we absolutely loved it and this is going to be one of our regular meals now. Thanks so much! I added two stalks of chopped celery, and used portabello slices insted of cremini b/c Trader Joe’s didn’t have any. Oh and I browned the beef with butter instead of oil, because food is always better with buttah. Also, just a quick note – I love that this recipe is an 8-10hr crock pot recipe. I work 8-5, and then with a half-hour commute each way, I’m gone for 10hrs, easy, every workday, and most crock pot recipes call for 6-hrs. This is actually a crock pot recipe I can do!

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Donna November 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I disagree, I think the pictures are great and I bet it tastes fantastic! Will try very soon.
Thanks
Donna

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Kim November 6, 2012 at 8:05 am

Can’t wait to eat this tonight, but I must say the active time is considerably more than 10 minutes if you’re cutting and prepping all the veggies yourself! I just spent at a minimum of an hour cutting potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and especially the butternut!!! Thanks for a great, hearty recipe though…this one is sure to please my hubby’s palate!!!

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DawnK November 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm

This looks delicious! Hubby is on his laptop right next to me. He was drooling over the pictures. I think I’m going to make this later this week sometime!

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Denise November 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I just returned to eating meat in the past 6 months and this recipe peaked my interest because of the “leave it and cook it” option. It was delicious. Not sure if it was the addition of the soy sauce or the butternut squash but this recipe is a keeper. Thank you Jenna!

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Kelli January 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Made this tonight and it was a big, no, huge hit! My kids were jumping up and down when I told them they have seconds of this dish. My son told me I was to never make any other kind of beef stew ever again. I would say that this was a 100% successful meal. Thanks for that!

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Jolina January 10, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Great recipe – thanks for posting. The mushrooms and squash were a wonderful change from the standard “stew.” One note however – you should change the active time. I spent 45 min. cutting all the ingredients and the squash alone took me a good 10 minutes!

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Christa February 20, 2013 at 5:40 pm

I made this today but mine turned out less “stewish” and more “soupish”…..it’s very liquidy.

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Jessica February 24, 2013 at 9:42 am

So, I went a little crazy in the veggie isle and had this butternut squash staring me in the face. I was tired of the traditional soup, so a google search later I found your recipe, and I am glad I did! This recipe will become a regular in my rotation. I even plan on splitting it (there is only two of us) and putting it into freezer bags to pop in and crock individually! Thanks so much!

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Jess February 26, 2013 at 7:02 pm

I made this for dinner tonight! It’s delicious. I wouldn’t change a thing!!! Definitely going to keep this recipe for future use. Thank you!

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Mary September 14, 2013 at 7:03 am

I have been eyeing this recipe since i discovered your blog this past summer. It has finally cooled down here in Illinois so i have this in my crock pot right now!!! Dinner at 5 never looked so good :)

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Justeen October 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Dinner last night was a huge hit with the boyfriend thanks to this recipe! I’m not a huge meat eater and don’t cook it often for myself, but I made this beef stew yesterday and we both loved it.

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Suzie November 14, 2013 at 7:38 pm

I made this today and it’s delicious. So hearty and fresh. Warmed us up. It’s a keeper recipe. Thank you

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